Air Traffic Control / Aviation · January 19, 2022

The Airbus A380 – Bigger Must Not Have Been Better

I read in the news recently that Airbus officially ended production of its massive Airbus A380 wide body jet airliner with the delivery of its last aircraft to Emirates in December of 2021. It reminded me of when I posted in 2007 of my encounter with an A380 at work when it was first entering service.

My Brush With a News Item

Wed, 28 Nov 2007

[I talked to the Airbus Industries A380 today while at work as an air traffic controller.

We don’t normally generate paper flight progress strips on aircraft anymore at high altitudes since URET was installed at the air traffic control centers, but I got one as a souvenir.

(Note the high quality of the printout as well – the horizontal breaks in the printing are really there! It’s thermal paper by the way.)

Air traffic controllers are required to call the aircraft “Super” in all radio communications, to differentiate it because the wake turbulence vortices it generates are even greater than aircraft in the “heavy” category, such as the Boeing B747. Not surprisingly FAA controllers are still using “interim” procedures for the A380 aircraft because the FAA has yet to formalize procedures for handling the A380 over a year after ICAO made recommendations on its handling.

The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger plane, and made the trip to Minneapolis as part of a sales tour across the United States.

The Airbus A380 was so large airports needed to modify their terminals to accommodate it.

However, unlike Boeing’s B747, whose production will end in 2022 after an amazingly long 54 year production run, the Airbus A380 only enjoyed a 14 year production run, failing to even recoup its investment costs.